Too Painful

When I lose sleep over injustice, and recently it seems to be often, I know I’m not handling it well — it’s too painful for me (Ps 73:16); I’m letting the enemy steal my joy. (Php 4:6) It’s time for a little reminder: God is just. (Pr 2:8)

What if God always rewarded good and evil with immediate pleasure or pain,BarnStorm training us like Pavlov’s dogs? We’d never know the depravity of the human heart … or the goodness of God.

In order to fully reveal Himself God must allow evil to go unchecked for a season; this exposes the human heart, and provides Jehovah a venue to glorify Himself. (Ro 9:22-23) The season may be longer than we’d like, but it’s a necessity.

I remind myself that God is faithful; He will bring every secret thing out into light; all will be revealed (Mk 4:22), dealt with and straightened out. (Lk 3:5-6) He may not be as prompt we’d like, but He’s perfectly just (Ro 2:2) and His timing’s always best. (Ps 104:31) My focus is to walk worthy of Christ, in intimate fellowship with God, and leave the rest to Him. (Ro 14:4)

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What If God?

Why does God allow so much evil, pain and suffering in the world? We know instinctively that He could stop it … but He doesn’t — so we’re tempted to doubt His goodness. What could be His motive?

Well, what would it be like if God never allowed anything bad to happen? Sure, there’d be no sin or suffering, but what would we know about God or ourselves?

We’d never know He was preventing evil and suffering … would we? We’d never FireyTreeexperience His mercy or patience; we’d know nothing of His sacrificial love or His willingness to suffer with us, or of His justice, wrath and holiness … or of our own selfishness and depravity … and very little of His wisdom and power. It would be pleasant for sure, but rather dull … uninteresting … boring. There’d be no contrast.

By allowing evil God has been revealing both Himself and everything outside Himself; this is actually His motive in Creation: the more evil He allows the more we know about Him and ourselves. (Ro 9:22-23)

Will knowing God intimately be worth it all in the end? Evidently, God thinks so … and He’s already there (Is 57:15) … bringing forth unspeakable beauty from all the brokenness. (Is 61:3, 1Pe 1:7)

The truth is, God hasn’t responded to most of the evil in the world yet, but He will one Day. (Ac 17:31) Just because we haven’t seen full justice doesn’t mean we won’t. And if the little we’ve seen of His response so far is any indication, it will be utterly amazing, glorious beyond description. (Re 20:11)

Meanwhile, God has shown us enough to help us rejoice in Him, to trust Him implicitly and confidently, and to glory in Him alone. (Je 9:23-24) Let’s do so, believing He will never break a promise, be unfaithful, or a disappointment in the end. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Co 2:9)

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Love Your Enemies

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” (Mt 5:44) Perhaps it’s the cornerstone of all godliness, actively seeking the good of others, even those who’d harm us.

The Passion of the Christ

This is unnatural, certainly; it denies our self-protective instinct. Returning good for evil enables and strengthens our enemies to harm us even more. Yet it is our God’s example. (Mt 5:45)

Living this way as a manner of life requires an energy from another world, a Life beyond our own. It is perhaps the greatest witness of the reality of God, that we commit our physical care into His hands, just as we have our souls and spirits. (1Pe 4:19) It is only then that we live as children of our heavenly Father.

There is a time to resist abuse, and a time to suffer according to the will of God. It is the wisdom of God to tell these apart, but there is never a time to wish ill to another. (Ro 13:10) Let us not fear to follow God in suffering for His name, for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2Co 4:16-18)

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As Bound With Them

A week ago I stood at the entrance of Stutthoff Concentration Camp near Gdansk Poland, where countless souls passed to humiliation, torture and death during WWII at the hands of Hitler’s ruthless minions. As I read the accounts of their pain, and stood where they were actually brutalized, I realized again that I know very little of suffering.

Stutthoff
Me at Stutthoff Concentration Camp

Many of these dear souls were doubtless my brothers and sisters in the faith, who couldn’t just turn a blind eye to the malice against their Jewish neighbors, and others in Hitler’s sadistic disfavor. I wondered if I’d have been strong enough to stand with them. What an evil day that was!

In He 13:3 we are commanded to remember those who are suffering as if we are suffering with them. This high calling of God is not for the faint of heart; it takes supernatural strength to live like this. It is where God Himself dwells, suffering with His people. It seems to me an inevitable cure for all selfishness, arrogance, self-sufficiency, lukewarmness and hardness of heart.

Such evil days are upon us again, as many suffer under the brutal onslaughts of Islam. I ask for grace to connect with this suffering as if it were upon me, and if I live to see the same myself, that God will give me grace to suffer well, to walk worthy of Him, Whose goodness I cannot deserve.

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Walk Worthy

What kind of life does one lead to be counted among the 24 elders encircling God’s throne? What would that be like, a front row seat in His immediate presence, God’s inner circle, enjoying Him for eternity? (Re 4:10-11)

lighttim
Tunnel of light, Arizona

Then again, what could Jesus Christ possibly gain from inviting the likes of someone like me to sit with Him in His very throne, to rule and reign with Him? Yet this is His incredible promise to all who overcome. (Re 3:21)

But why long for a seat before the throne of God … or even a place beside Him in His throne … when I have God Himself? What more can I possibly desire when God grants me as intimate a fellowship with Himself as I can possibly stand … as if I were the only one in Heaven … for the endless eons of time? To have my God … is to have all.

What an unspeakable privilege to know this infinite, unfathomable God, and to be known of Him! (Je 9:24) Oh my soul … “that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory!(1Th 2:12) Is any way too narrow, or any path too difficult for me to walk with Christ down here, when I see Him before me at the end (He 12:2), in all of His unsearchable richness? (Ep 3:8)

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Our Light Affliction

The apostle Paul suffered greatly for Christ’s sake (Acts 9:16), yet he called it “our light affliction.” (2Co 4:17) What perspective did Paul have that moved him to rejoice in his suffering?Majesty

Paul knew that all temporal suffering is “but for a moment” when compared to eternity, unworthy to even be compared with the glories that will be revealed in us. (Rom 8:18) Christ suffers in and with us in all our tribulations for a glorious purpose, and Paul counted it a privilege to be the medium through which Christ chose to suffer (Col 1:24); there Paul found priceless fellowship with God. (Php 3:10)

God is constantly choosing to suffer fiercely. Though we cannot yet see all the glory He plans for Himself in this, we should count it a fantastic privilege whenever He invites us to join Him. Our only chance to love Christ sacrificially is now, in this life — in Heaven it will be too late. When we see His nail pierced hands and experience the infinite love of God in person, what will we not give for one more moment back down here among His enemies … to show Him what He means to us?

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